EMI announced lower core profits as the music industry intensifies its efforts to combat music piracy in Europe.

The company expects to see the global music market remaining flat or even falling 4 per cent this year. Pre-tax profits for the year to March 31, 2004 fell from £178.8 million (in 2003) to £163.3 million. This left EMI with a net loss of £71.6 million, as the period included £154.8 million in restructuring costs.

EMI warned that it doesn't expect to see any overall growth in its industry this year, though US sales are improving and losses to online piracy have slowed.

Digital revenues – including proceeds from ring tones and those accrued from online stores such as Apple's iTunes Music Store – tripled to be worth over £15 million.

EMI chairman Eric Nicoli said: "Particularly in the US we've started to see very real reductions in the level of downloading and increased awareness among downloaders that what they are doing is illegal."

Hard time
The music industry is redoubling its efforts to make downloading no fun at all. New rules in Italy threaten downloaders with hefty jail terms, and in Greece authorities have jailed a man for three months for buying pirated CDs.

In Italy, legislators have set a new law that imposes penalties of up to three years in jail and fines of up to $1,240 for anyone found to be uploading or downloading unauthorized copyrighted materials on peer-to-peer services. They also face confiscation of computer hardware and software. In face of public opposition the Italian Senate plans to take another look at the penalties.

Tourists visiting Greece may need to check the records they buy there. A new crackdown on tourists in Greece who buy pirated CDs from street vendors has been launched by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). A tourist was last week caged for three months for buying just two CDs from a street vendor. Greece has the worst piracy rate in Western Europe.

IFPI spokeman Ion Stamboulis told the BBC: "This is not a symbolic measure. We are determined to prosecute the buyers and we have the support of the authorities. Until now, we were focusing on the sellers, but Greek courts generally hand them light suspended sentences and they resume their trade as soon as they are released."